Experts drop kids' age limit for rear-facing auto seats

Experts drop kids' age limit for rear-facing car seats

New Car Seat Guidelines Focus On Height, Weight

Natasha Young, a certified technician for the non-profit organization Safe Kids Worldwide, told CBS News that parents often graduate their children to front-facing seats too early.

"Previously, the recommendation was up to 2, now it could be up to 4 years, numerous rear facing seats will go up to 40 pounds", said Pam Johnson, a Registered Nurse at Mayo Clinic Health Systems.

Now, the age limit has been scratched, and the AAP recommends keeping kids in a rear-facing vehicle seat for "as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat". "He's kind of a bigger kid, so he'll probably hit the height and weight requirement, you know, sooner", Byrne said.

A recent report says age should not be the determining factor on when you stop putting your child into a auto seat.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics is updating its guidelines to keep kids facing the rear longer to decrease the chance of injury or death in a crash.

Many modern auto seats have weight limits of 65 pounds or more, so kids can stay in them for quite some time.

As a result, Hoffman recommends that, 'If you have a choice, keeping your child rear-facing as long as possible is the best way to keep them safe'.

The AAP also recommends children should use forward-facing auto seats for as long as possible.

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"The most unsafe thing that US children do as part of daily life is ride in a auto", writes Benjamin Hoffman, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention Executive Committee. Past recommendations suggest using the seats until a child is 2 years old, but new ones dropped the age limit for maximum safety.

"A lot of times they want to see their child, entertain their child, especially if they are a little more fussy", Young said.

"We hope that by helping parents and caregivers use the right vehicle safety seat for each and every ride that we can better protect kids, and prevent tragedies", said Dr. Hoffman, also noting that using the right auto safety seat could lower the risk of serious injury or death by up to 70 percent.

Parents should wait until children reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat before placing it in a forward-facing position.

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At ages eight to 12, or reaching at least 4 feet 9 inches, children should use a booster seat.

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